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Taking stock of number portability

I recently moderated a webinar sponsored by NetNumber that documented number portability (NP) adoption outside of North America. The webinar, which presented research data points from a custom survey Heavy Reading conducted in 2Q21, crystalized the status of NP adoption in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

Preferred approach for number portability adoption

This is a topic of great interest to me since I was involved in the implementation of NP in Canada. One of the key questions that I had was the extent to which NP was supported in these regions. As the figure below shows, the answer is that there is a strong level of support for either querying the shared database of an NP service provider (SP) or purchasing NP routing data from an NP SP that is maintained onsite.

In fact, the preferred approach (48%) within these regions is to query the database of an NP SP. Another 30% of the respondents also rely on NP data but have implemented the onsite database approach.

Overall, this translates to 78% of the respondents (70 of 90) relying on NP data, with the remaining 22% (20 of 90) relying on a non-NP solution for traffic routing. The latter choose to route to the SP that normally serves that number range.

Network routing approaches
Question: Which approach do you use for routing network traffic? (n=90) 
Source: Heavy Reading
Question: Which approach do you use for routing network traffic? (n=90)
Source: Heavy Reading

Preferred number of number portability service providers

I was also curious about how many NP SPs a communications SP (CSP) utilizes in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. As the figure below captures, the largest group of respondents (40%) utilizes 2–5 NP SPs, followed by 26% of respondents who use 6–10 NP SPs.

At the other end of the spectrum are the 9% who use 11–25 NP SPs, the 6% who use 26–50 and the 4% who use a staggering 50+ NP SPs.

While it was expected that some CSPs would use more than 10 NP SPs, the aggregate number of 19% (9%+6%+4%) confirms that a sizable group of CSPs is dealing with the complexity inherent with having so many providers to manage and integrate. I did not expect the multiple provider number ranges to be this high.

Number portability providers
Question: How many number portability providers do you use? (n=70) 
Source: Heavy Reading
Question: How many number portability providers do you use? (n=70)
Source: Heavy Reading

Level of satisfaction with number portability service provider performance

Another area of interest was just how satisfied CSPs are with the performance of their current NP SPs. As captured in the figure below, 93% of the respondents indicated they are satisfied. At least seven out of ten respondents felt that their NP SPs meet performance expectations (83%) or exceed them (76%). Additionally, 71% of the respondents agree that they are satisfied with the prices charged by their NP SPs.

Despite these high satisfaction metrics, the same figure also documents that the survey respondents still harbor concerns. What stands out is that 71% of CSP survey respondents believe that complexity is an issue in their dealings with their NP SP. This is reinforced by the input that 76% of these same respondents would switch to a single NP SP if it addressed cost and complexity. A complementary data point is the 67% of respondents who agree they have too many NP SPs, which even includes some of those that utilize a smaller number of providers.

The conclusion is clear. While CSPs believe that NP SPs are currently meeting performance and service expectations, the complexity of having to manage and integrate numerous NP SPs is something that the CSPs want to avoid and address by consolidating the number of NP SPs they currently use.

Number portability provider satisfaction metrics
Question: Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? (n=70) 
Source: Heavy Reading
Question: Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? (n=70)
Source: Heavy Reading

In summary, although NP has been deployed at scale and is meeting or exceeding performance expectations, for many CSPs in these regions, business model complexity is having a negative impact. In other words, while the state of NP data access within Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific remains on solid footing, complexity creep is a concern that continues to exert pressure on how CSPs consume NP services and choose NP SPs.

These are only several of the key data points we discussed in the recent webinar. A more detailed and granular view of NP adoption can be obtained by viewing the archived webinar at the following link: https://www.lightreading.com/webinar.asp?webinar_id=1951.

— Jim Hodges, Research Director, Cloud and Security, Heavy Reading

This blog is sponsored by NetNumber.

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